QUEEN OF KATWE – A Blu-ray Review by John Strange

QUEEN OF KATWE – A Blu-ray Review by John Strange
One of the benefits of what I do is seeing a lot of amazing films!  Even better is that I get to do the review when some of those films come out on DVD or Blu-ray!  Queen of Katwe is one of the films that I loved this last year.
This is the true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a Ugandan girl who finds her talent for chess in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda.  At the age of 10, she was lucky enough to meet Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) who had a missionary program teaching youngsters in the slums the art of chess and all of the lessons that the logic of the sport brings with it.  At first, Phiona is only going because of the porridge that Robert gives out at the beginning of each session.  Soon, her hunger for chess outstrips her desire for the food.
This true story is brought to us by ESPN Films and Director Mira Nair.  I loved the film when I watched it on the big screen.  Nair has made a film that takes a look at Africa that does not include crime or war.  It is a positive story of people working to lift themselves and their neighbors up.
To that note, the extras for the blu-ray release take us behind the scenes where we learn about how ESPN Films selected Mira Nair for the project and more importantly, why she was chosen.  Mira and the cast and crew, including Tendo Nagenda (who approached Mira on behalf of ESPN Films), take us on a delightful journey on how the film, inspired by an ESPN article on Phiona, came to be. 
We hear from David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'o (who plays Phiona’s mom) and other major players affiliated with the film.  Their stories add an amazing depth to an already rich story of hope and, sometimes despair, that all were building blocks that made up the young girl who was (and is) Phiona. They talk about how the location played a part in the film. 
They filmed in the actual village where Phiona found her love of chess.  The people and the town have an effect on you.  Even how the weather could affect the village’s inhabitants gets to you in ways you might have never considered possible.
There are a lot of positive tales given to us in the film and the behind-the-scenes stories.  One of the great things about this story is that Phiona makes a lot of negatives into positives with her attitude. 
We have come to expect a great performance these days from David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o but even they tell us how blown away they were with the performance of Madina Nalwanga in her first film.  She and Martin Kabanza (who plays Phiona’s brother, Mugabi Brian) have an amazing chemistry as they play against each other.  They each have a bright future ahead of them.
The soundtrack for the film is excellent.  It is enhanced by a song written for the film by Alicia Keys.  In one of the blu-ray extras Alicia talks about the song project.  In the next extra we are able to watch the music video made from that song.  It is a wonderful song and an excellent video.
I have to step out and tell you that this film is absolutely amazing.  I will watch it again and again over the years to come.  In fact, I went to my storage and dug out a couple of my old chess sets so I can start playing again (it’s been perhaps 30-40 years since I last played).
To see my review of the theatrical release of this film, click on this link: https://seligfilmnews.com/queen-of-katwe-a-review-by-john-strange/
Directed By:
  • Mira Nair
  • Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o
  • Queen Of Katwe: Their Story
  • A Fork, A Spoon & A Knight
  • In The Studio With Alicia Keys
  • Alicia Keys “Back To Life” Lyric Video
  • Young Cardamom & Hab “#1 Spice” Music Video
  • Deleted Scenes
  • 124 Minutes
  • Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date:
  • 02/03/2017
  • 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
  • http://movies.disney.com/queen-of-katwe
MPAA Rating:
  • PG
Selig Rating:
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target
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